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Famous fight it out in rush for golden tickets

Published 09/08/2012 | 05:00

British Prime Minister David Cameron is seated beside professional boxer Amir Khan while in
front of him FAI chief John Delaney is in the same row as Olympic Council of Ireland boss Pat
Hickey (waving).
British Prime Minister David Cameron is seated beside professional boxer Amir Khan while in front of him FAI chief John Delaney is in the same row as Olympic Council of Ireland boss Pat Hickey (waving).

THE gold rush is under way in earnest as all sorts of celebrities trade punches to try to get a ringside seat at Katie's fight against Russian Sofya Ochigava later today.

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But there were still a few familiar faces in the ExCel yesterday for her semi-final bout.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was in the crowd to cheer on Team GB flyweight Nicola Adams, but stayed to watch Katie in action.

Beside him was junior sports minister Michael Ring, who confirmed afterwards that David was rooting for the Bray boxer.

"He was cheering her on, and wished us luck for the final before he left," said Michael, who was himself speeding off to catch Cian O'Connor in action.

(Given that the Mayoman has been present for three medal wins, as he also saw Michael Conlan win his bronze on Tuesday night, perhaps he should consider himself a lucky mascot for Team Ireland.)

Accompanying the minister was FAI chief, the ubiquitous John Delaney, who seems to get to more exotic places than Madonna's luggage.

Now what has football to do with boxing, one wonders, (apart from the fact that Katie used to play on the Irish women's team)? Not a lot, but then John's a man of many bobble-hats -- he is also one of two vice-presidents of the Irish Olympic Council (IOC).

Moreover, his name is in the ring for the heavyweight position of president of the IOC should the current incumbent, Pat Hickey, land a promotion to the international committee.

Also spotted in the crowd was Ireland and Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given, who had a day off from pre-season training and had travelled to London to watch the fight. Afterwards he was full of praise for the huge Irish contingent who had managed to scare up tickets.

"The crowd were just amazing; it felt like being in Ireland. It just shows that Irish fans really love their sport," he said. "They really get behind their people and it was really great for me to be here to support Katie today."

Other familiar faces spotted at Katie's fights during the week included businessman JP McManus and Olympic bronze medallist John Joe Nevin, who fights for a silver tomorrow.

However, the famous-face count is expected to rise at today's final.

After all, nothing breeds celebrities like success.

Irish Independent

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